The warmer months are quickly approaching and everyone needs a good pasta salad for those family picnics. Greek pasta salad is my go-to for just such an occasion. The flavors are lemony and bright and even better, it’s mayo-free making perfect for those hot sunny days.
Pasta salads come in many shapes and forms and I am always on the lookout for one that is quick and easy to throw together. There isn’t a whole lot of chopping going on and I typically have all the ingredients on hand, especially in the warmer months when tomatoes and cucumbers are in season. I often add greens to this salad too, boosting the flavor while reducing how carb heavy a pasta salad can become.
You’ll find a lot of the typical ingredients that you’d see in Greek-inspired dishes. Lemon, oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil comprise the super simple dressing, while briny kalamata olives, crunchy cucumbers, tangy feta cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes round out the complexity of flavors.
While you can use a standard pasta shape like elbows, I prefer to use cavatappi. The corkscrew shape gives plenty of spaces for the crumbled feta to become nestled in, and it’s big enough where you don’t have to dice the rest of the ingredients super small.
Make the dressing while the pasta is cooking. After draining, add the still very hot pasta into the dressing as it will allow the pasta to absorb all the flavor from the lemon and seasonings, creating the perfect bite every single time.
While I often enjoy using fresh herbs and of course, fresh garlic, in this recipe I opted for dried for two reasons. First, fresh garlic in its raw state is extremely strong. While my family enjoys that super garlicky bite, not everyone does and it will leave with you garlic breath! Second, the warmth from the pasta will help coax out the oils in the dried oregano so you still get a lot of flavors.
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A greek inspired, mayo free, pasta salad that is perfect for your next bbq or picnic.
- 1/2 lb cavatappi (corkscrew shape pasta)
- 1/2 large english cucumber
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 kalamata olives
- 3 green onions (scallions)
- 4 oz feta (crumbled)
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
- While the pasta is cooking make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, oregano, and garlic and slowly streaming in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain and immediately toss with the dressing.
- Set aside to cool.
- Chop the cucumber into quarters, and then into bite sized pieces.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives in half.
- Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the scallions.
- Once the pasta is cool, crumble in the feta, add the cucumbers, olives and tomatoes, tossing to combine.
- Serve at room temp or cover and keep in the fridge till needed.
Try adding in a couple handfuls of baby spinach or arugula for an extra punch of flavor.